Urmensch und Spätkultur sowie weitere Schriften zu einer Theorie der Institutionen
Buch (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Arnold Gehlen's seminal socio-anthropological study "Urmensch und Spätkultur", first published in 1956, is primarily a work on the philosophy of institutions. In this edition, it is supplemented by further essays on a theory of institutions. For Gehlen, the foundation of institutions is closely connected with the objectification of magical ideas and practices by means of communal, symbolically meaningful actions. Gehlen detected the most elementary forms of such behavior in the observation of early, scriptless societies. From this Gehlen concluded that communal interactions enact a "transcendence into this world", i.e. the objectification of the otherwise invisible. For Gehlen, institutions serve to secure the indirect relationship humans are forced to establish with others as well as with themselves. In these "social regulations", Gehlen saw improbable and painstakingly achieved stabilizations, the binding character and thus the impact of which had increasingly dissolved since the Enlightenment, the great revolutions, and at the latest since the 20th century. The progressive diminishing of the validity of institutions in the age of what he called post-histoire was regarded by Gehlen as fateful. What is called "late culture" in the title of the present book signifies an increasing subjectivism as well as a state in which the comfortably relieving automatisms of mass production and corresponding mass supply fostered the widespread conviction that the purpose of all action was the avoidance of displeasure, aversion and pain in order to yield lustful sensations.